Paris! C’est Merveilleux!

Paris! The architecture, the fashion, the flowers and the food are all intoxicating. This is a journal of my first visit to this enchanting city.

After shooting for my client in the southern region of France (see that post here), my friend Emily and I headed to Paris for three days, because we just couldn’t be that close and not see it!

I wanted to shoot more than just the Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arch de Triumph and the other big  tourist attractions. I wanted to find the tucked away streets and cafés that would be more unique, but 3 days is just not enough time in Paris to see and do it all. And, the Eiffel Tower is just so magnificent that I found myself wanting to go back various times of the day to capture it in different light. I apologize in advance for the number of Eiffel Tower images in this post. But hopefully you get it! ha ha!

As the taxi took us from the airport to our hotel, the anticipation was building. I kept reminding myself to see Paris with my eyes and not always be looking through my camera lens. I wanted to fully experience it as much as I wanted to shoot it, but sometimes that’s very difficult for me when I travel, unless I leave my camera in the hotel. And, I just couldn’t do that! Can you blame me?

hdp-paris2016-3_-webAfter 7 very busy days of work shooting, the first thing we did upon arrival was sit down for a latte in the hotel lobby. I have to give a shout out to Brownell Travel for booking us a fabulous hotel, just steps from the Champs-Élysées. The customer service was outstanding and we had a view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance from our hotel windows.hdp-paris2016-4_-web

After taking a few minutes to relax,  it was time to walk the very old streets of Paris. Just look at these cobblestones! There’s so much history that has worn and weathered these stones. HDP-Paris2016-17_-WEB.jpgHDP-Paris2016-14.jpghdp-paris2016-28_-webhdp-paris2016-21_-webhdp-paris2016-156

The Arch de Triumph was commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 and took 30 years to build. Unfortunately he never got to see it finished because he died 15 years prior to its completion. Read this: The Quick 10 Arch de Triumph by Mental_Floss.

Interesting fact…The Tour de France has finished at the Arch de Triumph every year since 1975, so I waited for my shot at the very busy roundabout. Thanks to this cyclist for showing up at just the right time!

HDP-Paris2016-348_-WEB.jpgHDP-Paris2016-371_-WEB.jpgDon’t mind us. We are just fine climbing up on a traffic light…in the middle of the Champs-Élysées…at the roundabout, in busy traffic to get our shot. I mean, we won’t ever see these people again, right? (No shame.)

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hdp-paris2016-2_-webhdp-paris2016-41_-webhdp-paris2016-52_-webhdp-paris2016-48_-webSeeing Paris by boat, with a champagne cruise on the River Seine, gave us a different perspective of the city, especially of the unique bridges. Thanks again to Brownell Travel for booking the cruise for us when we requested it at the last minute.

hdp-paris2016-67_-webhdp-paris2016-69_-webhdp-paris2016-70_-webhdp-paris2016-71_-webhdp-paris2016-106_-webhdp-paris2016-78_-webhdp-paris2016-90_-webhdp-paris2016-110_-webhdp-paris2016-76_-webhdp-paris2016-59_-webhdp-paris2016-113_-webOur boat cruise on the Seine ended at sunset and night fell on the city, making it even more magical.

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I’ll never forget our first night in Paris. As we walked up the stairs of the park in front of the Eiffel Tower, we heard Frank Sinatra playing. And, when we arrived on the top terrace, there were couples ballroom dancing to Sinatra with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It was the most romantic scene. Right then I knew why it’s called “The City of Love” and we quickly grabbed our cameras to start shooting.

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The highlight of the trip for me, and I think for Emily too, was our private bike tour with Flora, which was planned for us by Brownell Travel. I really can’t describe what a wonderful way this is to see the city of Paris. It was a beautiful day riding our bikes, while Flora gave us a history lesson on Paris. She was extremely knowledgeable and a delightful tour guide. We began riding through the districts in the morning, stopped for lunch at a little corner cafe, saw highlights of famous art at The Louvre, went into Notre Dame Cathedral and ended at the La Basilique du Sacré Cœur de Montmartre. It was the perfect “Cliffs Notes” for Paris. We carried our cameras over our shoulders while riding, but quickly discovered that we didn’t want to shoot (and wreck) as much as we just wanted to fully enjoy this experience. Oh we stopped occasionally to grab a shot, but not nearly as much as I expected we would. We were vacationing photographers at this point, which is [a little] different than working photographers.

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The two oldest homes in Paris. hdp-paris2016-173_-web

hdp-paris2016-158_-webHDP-Paris2016-20_-WEB.jpgWe stopped at this cute little corner cafe for lunch.hdp-paris2016-225_-webThese shoe skates were parked at a table near by us at lunch…a cafe guest’s unique form of transportation.hdp-paris2016-229_-webThen there were these. I couldn’t resist grabbing this shot while I waited in line behind these French women.HDP-Paris2016-398_-WEB.jpg

After lunch we were off to the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral.

hdp-paris2016-201_-webhdp-paris2016-207_-webHDP-Paris2016-96_-WEB.jpgLook at this detailed iron work on the old wooden front doors of the cathedral. HDP-Paris2016-214.jpgI enjoyed hearing Flora tell us about Saint Denis, the Christian martyr and saint. He’s the statue (below) holding his head in his hand. Saint Denis is said to have picked his head up after being decapitated and walked six miles, while preaching a sermon of repentance the entire way. Truth or folklore?HDP-Paris2016-215_-WEB.jpghdp-paris2016-84_-webHDP-Paris2016-102_-WEB.jpghdp-paris2016-234Next, we went to see highlights at the Louvre, the world’s largest museum and historical monument.hdp-paris2016-83_-webhdp-paris2016-231hdp-paris2016-86_-webThe Mona Lisa is a half-length portrait of a woman by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci, which has been acclaimed as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world” and is viewed by 8 million people every year. (Source: Wikipedia)

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Goppion created an especially transparent yet virtually impermeable antiglare glass face composed of multiple, alternating layers of glass and PVB sheets. For security, the display case is made of thick steel and further protected by rear armour-plating made out of high-resistance steel. The painting’s support system allows the Museum staff to remove it quickly in the event of emergency. A compression system seals the perimeter at multiple points, achieving a higher-than-requested level of security and airtightness. To address the unique climate-control issues the project presented, we worked with the Polytechnic University of Milan, to design and build a complex, combined passive/active, system to both stabilize relative humidity and filter the air within the case. The system includes two completely independent and redundant units; if one fails the other takes over automatically and immediately. (Source: Goppion website)

Read this: 14 Things You Don’t Know about the Mona Lisa by Mental_Floss

People watching around her highly secure exhibit is quite entertaining.

hdp-paris2016-243_-webhdp-paris2016-244_-webWinged Victory of Samothrace, also called the Nike of Samothracehdp-paris2016-240_-webThe Venus de Milo marble sculpturehdp-paris2016-237_-webLiberty Leading the People painting by eugene Delacroixhdp-paris2016-250_-webA hand painted mural on the ceiling of The Louvre.hdp-paris2016-235_-web

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The last destination on our bike tour was the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which stands for the Sacred Heart of Paris. As we made or way up a hill on a narrow street through buildings, the pristine white cathedral came into sight. I think Emily and I both said “Wow!” out loud. It’s perched high on the hill, with the most incredible 360 degree view of all of Paris from the top.

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hdp-paris2016-277_-webAs we made our way out of the cathedral and around the corner towards Montmartre, there was a gentleman sitting by the steps playing the accordion. At the time, it felt like a soundtrack to our lovely day and it made me smile.

hdp-paris2016-281_-webMy favorite area in Paris is the artist’s district, Montmartre. Scattered all over the courtyard surrounded by cafes, were illustrators and painters, working at their easels creating portraits.hdp-paris2016-291_-webhdp-paris2016-283_-webhdp-paris2016-282_-webhdp-paris2016-285_-webhdp-paris2016-294_-webhdp-paris2016-297_-webEmily and I walked around admiring the artwork, then grabbed a café table to relax and enjoy dinner overlooking the courtyard. The weather was perfect and I could have stayed there for hours just taking it all in, but I wanted to photograph the Moulin Rouge lit up at night. So off we headed to our hotel to grab my tripod and make it there right before dusk.hdp-paris2016-298_-web(iPhone Photo)d23252cd-913b-4e82-9ec9-205ead96004c

HDP-Paris2016-319_-WEB.jpgOur last day in Paris was a little dreary, but as we looked back on our trip we were so thankful for dry weather, so we could walk and ride bikes everywhere we went. It truly is my favorite way to tour.

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A boot camp class was going on near one of the museums. After all of our bread and dessert I was tempted to join them!

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As our trip came to a close, we found ourselves making our way to the Champ de Mars park, at the base of the Eiffel Tower, to enjoy sunset. Maybe there will be another trip to Paris in my future, but just in case there isn’t, I wanted to grab more shots of this magnificent structure. But first, we had sweet crepes and champagne, lying on our jackets in the grass below the tower, and toasted to an amazing trip!

(Instagram photo)

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hdp-paris2016-410_-webhdp-paris2016-414_-webhdp-paris2016-427-2_-webhdp-paris2016-426_-webhdp-paris2016-419_-webhdp-paris2016-430_-webhdp-paris2016-433_-webhdp-paris2016-434_-webHDP-Paris2016-435_-WEB.jpgHDP-Paris2016-421_-WEB.jpgThe famous Love Locks BridgeHDP-Paris2016-423_-WEB.jpgHDP-Paris2016-422_-WEB.jpghdp-paris2016-428_-webParis, Tu est belle! Next up I head to London (and Scotland if time permits) to shoot for 9 days after Thanksgiving. You can follow along my shooting adventures on Instagram and Facebook.